Nahum 1:9 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Bible Comments

The prophet had in few words summed up the close of Nineveh; he now upbraids them with the sin, which should bring it upon them, and foretells the destruction of Sennacherib. Nineveh had, before this, been the instrument of chastising Israel and Judah. Now, the capture of Samaria, which had cast off God, deceived and emboldened it. Its king thought that this was the might of his own arm; and likened the Lord of heaven and earth to the idols of the pagan, and said, “Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand?” 2 Kings 18:35. He sent “to reproach the living God” 2 Kings 19:16 and “defied the Holy One of Israel” (see 2 Kings 19:15-34). His blasphemy was his destruction. It was a war, not simply of ambition, or covetousness, but directly against the power and worship of God.

“What will ye so mightily devise” , “imagine against the Lord?” He Himself, by Himself, is already “making an utter end.” It is in store; the Angel is ready to smite. Idle are man’s devices, when the Lord doeth. “Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us” Isaiah 8:10. While the rich man was speaking comfort to his soul as to future years, God was making an utter end. “Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee.”

Affliction shall not rise up the second time - Others have understood this, “affliction shall not rise up the second time,” but shall destroy at once, utterly and finally (compare 1 Samuel 26:8; 2 Samuel 20:10): but:

(1) the idiom there, “he did not repeat to him,” as we say, “he did not repeat the blow” is quite different;

(2) it is said “affliction shall not rise up,” itself, as if it could not. The causative of the idiom occurs in 2 Samuel 12:11, “lo, I will cause evil to rise up against thee;” as he says afterward, “Though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more” Nahum 1:12. “God,” He had said, “is good for a refuge in the day of affliction;” now, personifying that affliction, he says, that it should be so utterly broken, that it should rise up no more to vex them, as when a serpent’s head is, not wounded only but, crushed and trampled underfoot, so that it cannot again lift itself up. The promises of God are conditioned by our not falling back into sin. He saith to Nineveh, “God will not deliver Judah to thee, as He delivered the ten tribes and Samaria.” Judah repented under Hezekiah, and He not only delivered it from Sennacherib, but never afflicted them again through Assyria. Renewal of sin brings renewal or deepening of punishment. The new and more grievous sins under Manasseh were punished, not through Assyria but through the Chaldeans.

The words have passed into a maxim, “God will not punish the same thing twice,” not in this world and the world to come, i. e., not if repented of. For of the impenitent it is said, “destroy them with a double destruction” Jeremiah 17:18. Chastisement here is a token of God’s mercy; the absence of it, or prosperous sin, of perdition; but if any refuse to be corrected, the chastisement of this life is but the beginning of unending torments.

Nahum 1:9

9 What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time.